Many viviparous births / FRI 9-30-11 / Muleta material / Toppers popular with jazzmen / Wheelie supporter / Natures lay idiot I taught thee to love penner

Friday, September 30, 2011

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging



THEME: none, except for that diagonal line of Ks through the middle 

Word of the Day: Muleta (31D: Muleta material => FLANNEL) —
n.
A short red cape suspended from a hollow staff, used by a matador to maneuver a bull during the final passes before a kill. (answers.com)
• • •

Pretty easy except for the SW corner, which stopped me for what must have been a couple minutes. PINKY for PIGGY (38D: Little digit? — an error I'm betting tons of people made) threw me, and then when I saw it was probably wrong, taking it out did nothing (at first), because several of the clues down there were tenuous, vague, or convoluted.  I had YELPS correct (50A: Sounds from a 3-Down), but something YELPS when it's hurt. Little yip dogs, like TERRIERs, yip (3D: One producing 50-Across). They yip. But no matter, I had that right. The main issue down there is GINGERS (44A: Choices for snaps). It's horrible in the plural (unless you are referring to slang for redheads), and it's made more horrible here by a clue that makes no sense. I know what ginger snaps are, but I can't imagine anyone saying "What flavors [plural!?] will I choose for my snaps? I know. GINGERS!" Having a crummy plural plus a completely crummy clue topped off by the intentional vagueness of "snaps" (I was thinking pictures, for a bit), made my eventual success into whatever the opposite of an "aha moment" is. An "ugh moment," maybe. Too bad, as this grid is mostly well filled, esp. for a puzzle with such a low word count. No idea what those Ks are doing there. I guess they look nice. Is this product placement for Calvin Klein (CK)? Weird.

Once again, I maintain that only Patrick Berry can fill grids like this very well. He probably would never have a. repeated -LESS, b. repeated BACK, or c. had two answers that shared a *six*-letter string. Twice ("CKLESS" and "INGERS"). That said, there's hardly any of the usual forced fill that sinks the typical overambitious Joe Krozel puzzle, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. Had to go pretty far for that RENO'S clue (6D: "___ Most Wanted" ("best-of" compilation of a popular TV cop show)), but otherwise, everything else seems well within the land of common knowledge. There's some trying too hard to be clever and not quite pulling it off, or pulling it off horribly awkwardly, as in the clue on TOM (4D: Petty recording) and POSTBOX (24D: London letter getter). Misdirection in clues is great. Torturing normal phrasing in order to pull of some bit cuteness, not so much.


Started off by going SRTA to VARMINT to LOVE TAP. Not sure how I got VARMINT (15A: Coyote, say, to a Western rancher) from just the "T," but I did. NEUTRON (22D: Deuterium has one) and COASTAL were both easy, and both gave me access to the center of the grid. Threw down SPACKLING off just the "S" and hacked away at things from there. Had CALMLY and SANELY before SAFELY and WRINKLED before FRECKLED (31A: Having been overexposed to the sun, maybe). BACK TIRE forced the latter change (28D: Wheelie supporter). No idea about SPUTNIK (16A: Subject of the 2001 book subtitled "The Shock of the Century") or OFT or FLANNEL, but I worked them out relatively easily from crosses. PORKPIES (23A: Toppers popular with jazzmen) look good on JACK LORD (26A: His character had the signature line "Book 'em, Danno")—nice '60s vibe. AGEES is an unfortunate plural (25A: 1958 Pulitzer-winning novelist and family), but easy to get. I thought SYKES was MEADE, which I think is what I was supposed to think. Apparently there were (at least) two General Georges at Gettysburg.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

92 comments:

jae 12:11 AM  

This was on the easy side for me. That said, I started off with AIRKISS as my first entry and also had SEASIDE, LOT for TEE, and BOOB for BOOR at first. I thought it was just an OK Fri. until I noticed the Ks. Nice touch.

Anonymous 12:50 AM  

This puzzle is amazing and Rex isn't happy. Very little crud fill, a lot of cool stuff (BOOLEAN, e.g.), and yet Rex nitpicks. Sometimes I wonder if the xword world is so small and incestuous that impartial commentary is not possible. I'm an outsider, my times are mediocre, but I thought this puzzle had a lot of elegance.

PurpleGuy 12:58 AM  

I also thought this was a fairly easy puzzle. Had a good time completing it.
Nothing gave me trouble. Moved through it at a nice pace with a scotch to make it smooth.
Thought of @Tinbeni and toasted him.


Shanti -
Bob/PurpleGuy

syndy 1:11 AM  

I did have LOVE TAP at first but TERU did not work(although PAINT kinda did)only knew BOOLEAN as an Infinite Improbability Drive but that was enough .I think when the terrier latches on to his badger he starts to yelp.I liked this one even if I did fall for the PINKY.But my FRECKLES are a little sore.

andreas carlas michaels 2:04 AM  

once i caught on to the Ks i was able to get everything and I loved how they looked!

I too was wrinKLED before FRECKLED
(with an interim spECKLED)

PInkY (hand?) up for PIGGY

Thought this was super nice.
BOOLEAN my last fill as I didn't know what that was.

If I were to nitpick, it would be that there are a million plurals
(LITTERS, PORES, TAINTS, PORKPIES,
AGEES (!), PIXELS, GINGERS, NONAMES, EVICTS, RENOS, RENOIRS, JACKSONS, + RESENTS, LINGERS, YELPS) OK, 15...but then you do get those semi-awkwards GINGERS, AGEES, JACKSONS, RENOIRS, RENOS.

(And, @Rex, you mentioned the two -LESS, but not the two ones-
ONE OVER, ONE TERM)

That said, still love those Ks, thought it SPARKLED and crazy about the clue for CLAIRE Danes!

And, I've mentioned many times my friend Paul Clay (Rex had a pic of him on here after the LA tourney I think) who divides folks into ones who ask "Like the painter?" and ones who don't.

Still LINGERing in Minneapolis...

Me 2:19 AM  

I got depressed after finishing this puzzle because I thought the week was about over. Didn't realize it's still Wednesday.

chefwen 2:52 AM  

Thought the puzzle was pretty easy until I arrived in the Southwest and Southeast. Pinky up for PIGGY, had fINGERS snapping before GINGERS, never heard of CLAIRE Danes, thought the delegate at 42D was EgAN and BOOLEAN was new for me. Took a goodly amount of time to sort that mess out. Pretty proud of myself on a Friday until I fell into that lot and had to resort to Uncle Google to wrap things up. Oh well, maybe tomorrow...

Anonymous 2:53 AM  

Terrible for a themeless, but good for a Krozel.

chefwen 2:58 AM  

@PurpleGuy - Don't drink Scotch but I toasted @Tinbeni with a nice Chardonnay, I miss him also.

Anonymous 3:36 AM  

It's not fair to compare any themeless construction to a Patrick Berry marvel.
His themeless grids dwell on a different plateau!

Anonymous 3:36 AM  

It's not fair to compare any themeless construction to a Patrick Berry marvel.
His themeless grids dwell on a different plateau!

Joel 5:19 AM  

Great, great puzzle. A beautiful construction with little to no dreck.
Any puzzle that appeals to me as a constructor and a solver is a success in my book.

Jberg 7:13 AM  

Two famous Georges, Meade and Pickett. I should have got Sykes from the crosses, but I blanked on PORES & SAFELY and had ole for ODE, so FWG. (finished with. Google). Loved the Ks!

GINGERS should have been clued as a verb.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

44A...Dye and Job for Tina Louise?

Smitty 7:48 AM  

I agree with @Joel, very pleasing fill and the -ck's in the middle made it a breeze...Unlike yesterday's which I found medium-challenging.
Didn't think of WRINKLED, @Rex, I had CRACKLED

MaryBR 7:53 AM  

With PORK PIES, BACKLESS and TRACKMEET as my toeholds, the center Ks fell quickly. Got held up in the NE when SPUTNIK wouldn't come and I had guessed ere instead of OFT, giving me SurELY. Once those two were corrected and SPUTNIK was put in, the rest fell. I associated Bauhaus so strongly with architecture/design that I struggled with KLEE for a while, and the P of PORES/PAUL KLEE was my last letter.

Z 8:00 AM  

It was the north that gave me troubles - plopping in seASide and having that S work made unlocking 5,6,14,and 8D a lot of work. "That S is working so the whole word has to be right" - nope.

I don't like the clue for ONEOVER. One over par would be an all-time great round for me, but Tiger Woods shoots that score and the ESPN talking heads start speculating that his career is done and he should retire.

GINGERS didn't bother me only because I guessed it the first time. Snaps in the clue means GINGER. Awkward plural - I barely noticed.

Finally, @anon at 12:50 - Did Rex say he was unhappy? I can't find where he said that. And are any of his "nitpicks" inaccurate? We'd love to hear why you disagree.

SethG 8:04 AM  

Super easy except for the bottom corners. PINKY not too hard to get rid of, though FINGERS works for other snap choices. Stalled for about five minutes in the SE, with DANTE and AT LEASE working pretty well and harder to give up.

Back/back Jack/Jack makes me think of Steely Dan. Reck/Freck doesn't make me think of anything.

hazel 8:09 AM  

I found this to be a beautiful puzzle in so many ways. It had good "lines" (borrowing from @foodie) and reminded me of @Ulrich.

I liked the way the CK staircase was bounded by the top and bottom of the foodchain (PORKPIES & PLANKTON). A porkpie hat for Pete's sake. How cool is that!!

Thought the cluing was great and the words evocative - the whole thing just made me feel clever, (which I will take on a Friday any time I can!). Shame he couldn't work nitpick in - since we use that word so often here!

Regardless, looking back on the completed grid, ahhhh. niiiice....

Raul 8:10 AM  

The other General Georges from Gettysburg were: Brigadier General George Sears Greene,Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer,Major General George Edward Pickett and Colonel George Lamb Willard.

Campesite 8:39 AM  

I thought this was a straightforward puzzle by Joe Krozel standards. Go check the thumbnails of his puzzles on xwordinfo.com--he's got some whacky grid shapes.
Still not sure what the K's mean, and sort of interesting that JACKLORD and JACKSONS and BACKLESS and BACKTIRE meet at their first letter.

joho 8:44 AM  

Its no wonder Mr. Krozel is fascinated with K's ... and I'm glad he was with this delightful, Friday puzzle.

There are so many fresh words everywhere in the grid I won't list them. Plus the clues were great, too, my favorite being Point of view? for PIXELS.

Yes, there were too many plurals (a lesson well taught to me by AndreaS CarlaS MichaelS) but they couldn't spoil the pleasure of this puzzle for me.

Thank you, Joe, loved it!

evil doug 8:57 AM  

Cartman: [walks up to the front of the class and turns around, looking at his paper] Thank you, Mrs. Garrison. [reads] My speech is entitled "Ginger Kids: Children with red hair, light skin, and freckles." [Stan and Kyle glance at each other] We've all seen them - on the playground, at the store, walking on the streets - they creep us out and make us feel sick to our stomachs. I'm talking of course about... ginger kids. [cues up his pics. A red-headed boy appears] Aww sick! Gross! Ginger kids are born with a disease which causes very light skin, red hair, and freckles. [next picture is of a girl licking her triple-scoop ice-cream cone] Aw, nasty! Yuck! [returns to his paper] This disease is called Gingervitus, and it occurs because ginger kids have no souls.

Kyle: [annoyed at Cartman's ignorance] What?!

Cartman: Kids who have gingervitus cannot be cured. [another redheaded girls pops up] Ah sick! [another redhead] Gross! [another redhead] Yeck! [returns to his paper] Because their skin is so light, ginger kids must avoid the sun. Not unlike... [a picture of a vampire with a full moon and bats behind him pops up] vampires.

Class: Aaaah.

Kyle: That's not true, fatass! I have red hair, and I don't have to avoid the sun!

Cartman: I was getting to that, if you will let me. [returns to his paper] Some people have red hair, but not light skin and freckles. These people are called "daywalkers." [cues up a picture of Kyle, with "daywalkers" written underneath]

*******************************

Evil
Ginger Cupcake

dk 8:59 AM  

Ks are supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

When I walked in to the Monkey House bar in Altadena many of the patrons would whisper 5-O. And, as the viviparatious VARMENTS were consorting with known felons... you can guess the rest

I like GINGER Snaps and ATWORST I am a BOOR

So this puzzle is all me - easy and BACKLESS.

** (2 Stars) Agree with whomever penned it seems we are going back in time. I mean I am easy but I like my puzzles to have more plaster than SPACKLE.

Lastly, Joe what did you do to INRAGE Rex?

dkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

jackj 9:17 AM  

Since this was the easiest Friday puzzle I’ve ever done, it seems okay that I change the day and recycle a comment from yesterday that “Fridays should elicit a little bit of pain, if only to establish their bona fides as late week puzzles”.

Not to say there weren’t some terrific entries, all quite definitely “in the language”, like PORKPIES and PLANKTON; LOVETAP and DISOWN; VARMINT and FLANNEL.

But then we get the clever “B’s”, BACKLESS and BACKTIRE and SPARKLED with SPACKLED right next door and to add to these we have JACKLORD and JACKSONS. All this to support a constructor’s dream line of seven angled “K’s”, (though we should also add ONETERM and ONEOVER to the letter repetition confusion).

Is this a deficiency? I don’t presume to know but, though they are all clever stand-alone entries, as presented, they bothered me when solving, so my instincts say, “yes”.

Clearly, Joe’s puzzle left me floundering in never-never land so I’ll just say, “Thanks”, (I think) and exit blog right.

David 9:32 AM  

Very easy by my normal Friday standards - it took a couple of minutes to get even a few clues, but once I got a major toehold (the PLUS-like 9 letter crossings of TRACKMEET and SPACKLING), I sailed right through.

Fortunately, never input PINKY b/c I couldn't conceive of any 6 letter answer that could precede Monkey at 48A. Still, PIGGY was one of my final entries, as the excellent CLAIRE clue slowed me as well as the less excellent GINGERS clue.

As others have posted, loved many of the 6, 7 and 8 letter answers all over the puzzle.

OldCarFudd 9:36 AM  

I've read all the gripes, but few of them bothered me. There are some good words in here, an the stairway of Ks is kinda fun! Enjoyed it!

But I've always heard of them as love pats, not taps.

PuzzleNut 9:41 AM  

Much easier for me than yesterdays. Avoided the PIGGY/PINKY trap and with CLAIRE and FLANNEL in place, the SW was no problem. Hestitated in the NE as I didn't know PAULK LEE, but finally wised up. Like Rex, I put in VARMINT off the T, thinking that was a really cool answer. SE was my last area as I had ONe???? for a while which kept the PIXELS from showing up for a long time. BOOLEAN is a wonderful word.
Been extra busy lately and have missed "visiting" this great group.

chefbea 9:44 AM  

Had to google a bit but still was easy for a Friday.

Wanted twenties to be Jazz era but was not enough letters.

Can someone explain boolean so I don't have to google it?

Lindsay 9:52 AM  

Liked the puzzle well enough, but it did seem a bit repetitive along the K-line. Spackle made sense for 19D, but I didn't put it in because I thought it was in already. Guess that was Sparkle.

Had the PInkY problem and the wRinKLed problem, as well as a haNGs i/on problem at 41A.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Long Rider 9:54 AM  

A bit too many negatives for me. The diagonal K's are fine, but: JACK LORD-JACKSONS xing on the J and BACKLESS-BACK TIRE xing on the B just seems lazy, what with all of the other word possibilities (BUCK, TRUCK, etc.). The problem could be, as Rex mentions, all of those C's - five of them - next to the K's when at least some of them could be N's. Otherwise, you can't help doing a lot of repeating. Also not a fan of RENOS and AGEES, and the clue for GINGERS, and ONE OVER and ONE TERM in the same puzzle, so I'd have to say the puzzle leans on a few too many crutches for me.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:56 AM  

Great puzzle! Must love that line of Ks! Would love it even more if I had noticed it myself, but I didn't. Had to have Rex point it out to me!

Two letters over-written: Had the POST of 24 D, wrote in MA, then held my pen, waited to see if it would turn out to be BOX, which it was.

This puzzle reminded me: If you like a quick online puzzle as an appetizer, be sure to check out "Matt Gaffney's Daily Crossword." True genius in a small package. Today's Times puzz reminded me in a way of Matt's puzz yesterday, Thursday, Sept. 29. Can say no more.

jesser 10:03 AM  

Many of us had the same errors, but I had more than you. Not that this is a good thing. PInkY before PIGGY at 38D, browS before PORES at 8A, wRinKLED before FRECKLED at 31A, PupiLS before PIXELS at 39A, attENds before RESENTS at 35D, NObodyS before NO NAMES at 51A. Ugh.

I loved the diagonal Ks, and there's something about BACKLESS over TRACKMEET that has me grinning.

Yesterday I promised a story. I realized after I posted that I had placed myself in a Rex Rules bind if I could come up with no story that directly related to the puzzle. I needn't have worried. Fair warning: This story has a Very Bad Word in it.

When I was editor of The Raton Range in northern New Mexico, I covered a community forum dedicated to the best way to control coyotes, the notorious VARMINTs that roam the southwest states.

Most in attendance were ranchers and state officials representing Game and Fish and the Forest Service. But there was this one lady in the back who was a bleeding heart liberal environmentalist who Would Be Heard. I loved her for her courage when she stood up to the notions of trapping and shooting and pleaded, instead, for medicating the coyotes with something that would make them infertile, thereby reducing their numbers in a humane way.

A great quiet fell over the room. Finally, a rancher stood up, turned around to face the woman, and said, in the driest possible voice, "Lady, them kiyotes ain't fuckin' my sheep, they're eatin' 'em."

It was a full 20 minutes before order was restored.

If there is ever a puzzle with a clue or answer involving CATTLE GUARDS, I have an even better story.

Happy weekend!

P.S. I miss Tinbeni, too.

chefbea 10:15 AM  

@Jesser that was a riot!!! I'm still laughing

I miss Tinbeni too and still have a scotch every night!!!

Cheerio 10:19 AM  

Got through this-yay! Maybe it is more of an easy rating?

foodie 10:45 AM  

I too thought the puzzle was both easy and good. Easy and Good is a great combo, you know... We deserve that once in a while.

@Jesser, I laughed so loud, my husband came rushing from the other room to see what's up...

@Hazel, thanks for the shout out. You made me realize that I use "lines" in that sense... Speaking of which, we might be honing in on a sofa!! A Miracle might happen. And I too miss both Tinbeni and Ulrich.

@Evil Duck, funny story. I love Gingervitis! But you know people who have freckles (that includes yours truly, although they are very light by now) have a mutant gene. http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/08_01/Freckle_gene.shtml

slypett 11:00 AM  

GINGERS could have ruined the puzzle for me. There have got to be decent ways of cluing it. The reason it didn't spoil the affair was is that I had so much fun! fun! fun! SPUTNIK! PORKPIES! PIXELS!PLANKTON! BOOLEAN! A string of Ks that would make Roger Clemens proud!

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

very funny anecdote,jesser.can't wait to hear the other one. wanted airkiss, had pinky, lout for boor.needed some help but it wasn't such a bad friday.

Two Ponies 11:08 AM  

I loved the K cascade.
The repeats raised my eyebrows.
Gingers could have been clued much better. I wonder who wrote that one.
My go-to Sykes is Wanda.
Thank you @jesser, I knew you'd come through!

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I have to ask because I simply did not get this: what kind of beads form in PORES? Is it supposed to refer to beads of sweat? ACK.

quilter1 11:26 AM  

Got to this late as I am making soup and baking bread this morning.

I got hung up in the NW. Made many of the errors others did, but enjoyed the solve.

@jesser, great story.

snopes.com 11:39 AM  

A few years ago, the Sierra Club and the United States
Forest Service (USFS) were presenting an alternative to
Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population.
It seemed that, after years of the ranchers using the
tried and true methods of shooting and /or trapping the
predators, the tree-huggers had a "more humane" solution.

What they proposed was for the animals to be captured
alive, the males castrated, then let loose again ... and
the population would be controlled. This was ACTUALLY
proposed to the Wyoming Wool and Sheep Grower's association
by Sierra Club and USFS.

Well, all the ranchers thought about this amazing idea for
a couple of minutes.

Finally, an old boy in the back stood up, kicked his hat
back and said, "Son, I don't think you understand the problem. These coyotes
ain't fuckin' our sheep - they're eatin' them!"
Posts: 36029 | From: Admin | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | 

evil doug 11:46 AM  

Y'know,it seems like I've heard that one before....

*******************************

From Snopes:

A few years ago, the Sierra Club and the United States
Forest Service (USFS) were presenting an alternative to
Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population.
It seemed that, after years of the ranchers using the
tried and true methods of shooting and /or trapping the
predators, the tree-huggers had a "more humane" solution.

What they proposed was for the animals to be captured
alive, the males castrated, then let loose again ... and
the population would be controlled. This was ACTUALLY
proposed to the Wyoming Wool and Sheep Grower's association
by Sierra Club and USFS.

Well, all the ranchers thought about this amazing idea for
a couple of minutes.

Finally, an old boy in the back stood up, kicked his hat
back and said, "Son, I don't think you understand the problem. These coyotes
ain't fuckin' our sheep - they're eatin' them!"
****************************
From "Sheep Jokes"--
http://www.yuksrus.com/animals_sheep.html

A few years ago a group of tree-huggers was presenting an
alternative to the ranchers for controlling the coyote population.
It seemed that, after years of the ranchers using the tried and
true methods of shooting and/or trapping the predators, the
tree-huggers had a "more humane" solution. What they poposed was
for the animals to be captured alive, then castrate the males,
then let them loose again, and then the population would be
controlled.
Well, all the ranchers thought about this amazing idea.
Finally, an old boy in the back stood up, kicked his hat back
and said, "Son, I don't think you understand the problem. These
coyotes ain't fuckin' our sheep, they're eating them!!"

**************************
From http://www.black-and-right.com/2011/07/21/email-of-the-day-38/

"I did some quick checking and this appears to be a true story.

'The Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service were presenting an alternative to the Wyoming ranchers for controlling the coyote population. It seems that after years of the ranchers using the tried and true method of shooting or trapping the predators, the Sierra Club had a “more humane” solution to this issue.'

Of course.

'What they were proposing was for the animals to be captured alive. The males would then be castrated and let loose again. This was ACTUALLY proposed by the Sierra Club and by the U.S. Forest Service. All of the ranchers thought about this amazing idea for a couple of minutes.

Finally an old fellow in the back of the conference room stood up, tipped his hat back and said; “Son, I don’t think you understand our problem. These coyotes ain’t fuckin’ our sheep… they’re eatin’ ‘em!'

The meeting never really got back to order."
*****************************

But I imagine they all probably got that joke from you, Jesser....

Evil

SAxword 11:55 AM  

the string of letters makes me wonder if there is a theme/pattern.

7 Ks, next to
5 Cs, next to
3 As.

Lots of ACKs. Just saying

jesser 11:59 AM  

I have to assume that either the guy I heard say it had heard it before, or the guy who said it at the Sierra Club heard it from that guy in Raton. Either way, I nearly wet my pants!

Mel Ott 12:06 PM  

Very nice clean puzzle. Lotsa good stuff, very little crap. Easy to medium for me for a Friday.

I did not notice the repeated -CKLESS & -INGERS strings, or the crossing BACKs. Did notice the crossing JACKs. None of these bothered me.

@Jesser: Whatever the origin of the story, it's a great one. Still LOLing. I have to figure out how to tell it to our church secretary, whose dog was mauled by a coyote. In Fairfield County, CT!

Anne 12:07 PM  

@Jesser - I've been doing the puzzle and reading the comments for nearly three years even though I seldom comment anymore. You liven the joint up - in a good way. Thanks.

mac 12:19 PM  

Fun puzzle with good words and clues, except for some of the things mentioned before. I found out the hard way there were many, many plurals, after the first runthrough there were tons of esses in the grid....

Claire Danes stared right at me from the pages of the NYT. I too think Wanda is going to take George's place one day soon.

The only area I had a real problem was the NW. I stuck with "warring" for 2D way too long, and wanted litters to go down at 3D. Peru is mentioned separately in Risk? Wanted Asia. And par somehow in 13A.

Lots of longish words, I like it.

@jesser: good thing I had finished my coffee before reading your story!

if this is the CATTLE GUARD story... 12:24 PM  

For those of you who have never traveled to the west, or southwest, cattle guards are horizontal steel rails placed at fence openings, in dug-out places in the roads adjacent to highways (sometimes across highways), to prevent cattle from crossing over that area. For some reason the cattle will not step on the "guards," probably because they fear getting their feet caught between the rails.

A few months ago, President [insert name here] received and was reading a report that there were over 100,000 cattle guards in Colorado . The Colorado ranchers had protested his proposed changes in grazing policies, so he ordered the Secretary of the Interior to fire half of the "cattle" guards immediately!

Before the Secretary of the Interior could respond and presumably try to straighten the President out on the matter, the Vice-President intervened with a request that ... before any "cattle" guards were fired, they be given six months of retraining for Arizona border guards. 'Times are hard', said [insert name here], 'it's only fair to the cattle guards and their families!'

evil doug 12:31 PM  

Are there any other good stories that happened to you that we can look up, Jesser?

Evil

jesser 12:45 PM  

My cattle guard story involves a road project that was going to be pretty costly, and the suggestion made by someone who clearly did not have a working understanding of cattle guards suggested that to realize some savings, half the cattle guards should be fired and the rest could be paid slightly more money. :-)

CoffeeLvr 12:57 PM  

I loved this puzzle, loved it! I found it to be easy-medium, and was very surprised at @Rex's rating. It turns out that not only are there 11 new entries to the NYT XWordInfo database in this puzzle, there are 14 more that have not been used since I began solving in 2007. So fresh, so in the language. Yes, I see the plurals, but I don't care. I did note the repetitive ONE...., but the BACK.... and JACK.... repeats didn't even register. Again, I don't care! This puzzle SPARKLED for me.

As for my solving experience, sure, some words went in that had to come out, but I was never completely stumped. TAP, PAT, TAP.

@Jesser, thanks, a classic! VARMINT was a high note for me, its use is not restricted to the West. I have heard it angrily applied to raccoon and squirrels.

Z 1:02 PM  

Thanks @Jesser.

Chill 1:08 PM  

Jokes frequently work better in the first person. Long jokes are told as stories, frequently better in the first person.

syndy 1:10 PM  

Of course the sierra club dosent sent one guy to one meeting-they have a whole campaign worked out,and I would imagine that that response was pretty common.not only for coyotes but whenever species reduction was suggested.

archaeoprof 2:13 PM  

Saw 12D and quickly wrote "Meade." How RECKLESS of me.

And another pinky/PIGGY here.

ONEOVER is a "pretty good result" for one hole, but it is an extremely good result for an 18-hole round.

John V 2:15 PM  

I'm very happy with this puzzle, which played difficult for me .. just finished; this was a multi-seater. My first pass through the across clues yielded, oh, maybe ONE answer, likewise for the down. But, got it with no mistakes, just chipping away, so I'm happy.

Like others, had PINKY. Also had RISKLIKE for 28D (huh?), which screwed things up for some time. SW was by far the hard part.

I thought 31A, Overexposed to the sun = Freckled, was a bit of a stretch for the answer. I was looking for something ...burned, desicated, but not freckled.

WOTD for me: PIXELS, points of view. Liked that clue!

Also had SEASIDE form 18A, which gave my new Pilot FriXion eraser a good workout.

Don't know Claire Danes, but happy to meet her today.

Two Ponies 2:37 PM  

@ CoffeeLvr, Thanks for the database info. Eleven new words in one puzzle!? Amazing.

Martin 2:38 PM  

The K's are the center of the TRACKMEET's oval, which you can see if you connect the vowels.

Pretty cool hidden theme.

Joe Krozel pointed this out at Wordplay.

Lewis 3:18 PM  

@martin -- connect which vowels?

@jesser -- you told it best

Loved the inKline, my hardest quadrant was NW, needed a few googles, but enjoyed the solve...

John V 3:19 PM  

@Martin: Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by "connect the vowels."

CoffeeLvr 3:22 PM  

@John V, my mother's skin FRECKLED if she was exposed to a lot of sun, and oh, how she loathed that. Since this was prior to the days of sunscreen, she wore hats. Fortunately, I did not inherit that particular trait. So this is a long way around to say it made sense to me, after I discarded cRaCKLED!

CLOCKS IN brought back a lot of memories. When I was hired as a management trainee, my first assignment was in Payroll, where we audited the time cards against the record provided by the supervisors. While I didn't understand it at the time, and thought it was a great waste of my education and talents, it actually was a good way for the company to screen for people who could show up on time, apply their butts to the chair, keep their heads down, mouths shut, and work their asses off. In the meantime, we could learn a bit about the 21 different departments and their respective functions, and the general environment.

Once a week, rotating among the four Payroll clerks, someone came in at 11 PM on Sunday night, pulled all the time cards for the prior week, and racked up the cards for the new week. At that time, there were around 4000 hourly employees at my location, so you had to hustle.

My first night on my own, I wrongly assumed I had to be done by the start of the day shift on the main line, 6 AM, as I recall. Oh, no, many workers in the plant had start times as early as 5:15, because they did prep work before the line started. Well, when they started showing up for work and there were no time cards in the rack for them to CLOCK IN with, I was the goat! Without a valid time stamp on their card, they would be docked 3 tenths of an hour's pay for being late. All of them had to be manually excused the next day when the cards were audited, so of course my supervisor and all of my peers knew I had screwed up.

Martin 3:31 PM  

These vowels.

a guy 3:49 PM  

I drew a cat on my puzzle.

600 3:52 PM  

Sometimes I get worried when I come here and someone else says EXACTLY what I planned to say. Today it was @Bob Kerfuffle, so I'll just quote him: "Great puzzle! Must love that line of Ks! Would love it even more if I had noticed it myself, but I didn't. Had to have Rex point it out to me!"

Also, Rex, thanks for the Lewis C.K. I'm still laughing.

The varmint story was best when told by you, @Jesser, and I wish we could have had the long version of the cattle guard one too.

@Two Ponies--My go-to Sykes is also Wanda. What a riot that woman can be!

One more thing I liked about the puzzle--one no one else has mentioned, maybe for good reason--was the reference to one of the Lucy poems. (I suspect Wordsworth lovers are a smallish group.) As I've seen others do this here, let me give it a try. Here's my favorite Lucy poem:

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise,
And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone
Half-hidden from the eye!
--Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky!

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and O!
The difference to me!


I know it's sad, but I love it anyway. Now let's see how poetry prints when I push "publish your comment"!

John V 3:58 PM  

@Martin: VERY cool! Thanks.

Tobias Duncan 4:03 PM  

Loved loved loved this puzzle.
GINGERS should have been clued: three percent of London.
One sports clue and its lovely.
Two of my favorite painters.
Was not put off by any of the criticisms leveled by Rex about the construction and repeats.
Top notch puzzle.

Jesser I dont know how you were able to live in Raton, I hope you spent a lot of time in Santa Fe.

Z 4:13 PM  

@Martin - would be cooler if the oval was an oval.

Lewis 4:13 PM  

@martin -- the top of that oval isn't symmetrical with the bottom and it could have been -- it is awesome enough what he did, but it would have been magnificent if he made it symmetrical.

Thank you so much for pointing out the oval!

sanfranman59 4:18 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Fri 20:33, 25:45, 0.80, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 10:53, 12:44, 0.85, 24%, Easy-Medium

Sparky 4:20 PM  

DNF no surprise. Worst section SE. Boolean new to me. Thought 35D tends to. Hands up for PInkY, airkiss, then LOVEpAT. Got FLANNEL but I thought muleta is a sandwich. The whole line of Ks fell in just fine so I thought I was off to a good start. The JACKs crossing don't bother me at all. Repeated words can be fun.

Thanks @Jesser. It was worth the wait. @Rex. I take it that's a Petty girl, not a Vargas?

dk 4:25 PM  

@jesser et als. stories remind of the joke about how men in a village got their names: Joe the baker, Fred the barber... the punch line was "you f#*k just one goat"

book - em @evil duck

CoffeeLvr 4:25 PM  

@600, thank you for the Wordsworth; I had forgotten it. My mother taught me to recite poetry, as her father taught her. Her mother was a Lucy.

Three and out.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

GINGERS: They go with ale and beer

GINGERS: Jersey redheards

GLR 5:26 PM  

Generally enjoyed this puzzle - about a normal time (for me) for a Friday.

I'm not a constructor, but I get the concern over lots of plurals - even though the only real "klinker" here was GINGERS - but I don't get why there's a concern over two answers with "ONE" in them or repeated sequences of "INGERS" or "LESS."

Thought GINGERS might plausibly have been clued as names - "Drummer Baker and dancer Rogers" or something like that.

Chip Hilton 5:49 PM  

@GLR: I'm stunned. I was panning down the entries, tsking over the varmint joke snippiness, just waiting to make my suggested clue involving Rogers and Baker. And there it is, right above me in the batting order. Great minds...

Surprised at the number of folks who don't know the lovely, and talented, Ms. Danes.

GLR 6:52 PM  

@Chip Hilton - I suspect our idea of a good clue on GINGERS would have been assailed by younger solvers as "dated." But it's good to know that there's at least one other person out there whose mind works like mine!

miriam b 6:58 PM  

Somehow I wrongly associated "Book 'em,Danno" with JACK Webb as Sgt. Friday. When my error produced PeSTBOX and PAULKwEE it came to me that Friday was always looking for just the facts. Actually, I don't believe I've ever seen Hawaii 5-0, but I did know that JACKLORD was the star.

All around fun puzzle, Mr. Krozel. Thanks.

Stan 7:18 PM  

Best meta-comments: @Chill and @Chip Hilton.

Best story: @Jesser.

The puzzle: I'm with Rex on all the repetitions, but don't think that makes the puzzle bad. Just odd. Keep trying new things, constructors!

Stan 7:21 PM  

Oh, and of course @GLR who got there first.

Unknown 7:32 PM  

The diagonals of two ss's, three a's, five c's, and seven k's spelled sack in an odd way, and led me to meander looking for other themes.

Snopes 7:40 PM  

Best Wedgie: @Evil Doug

Anonymous 7:53 PM  

What happened to tinbeni? and ulrich?

michael 9:51 PM  

Easy puzzle even if I did make at first the common mistakes of Meade and pinky. I don't like track meet as "an event" though I can see the logic. It seems to me that a track meet consists of many events -- dashes, long runs, high jumps, etc. I suppose it is an event that consists of various events...

sanfranman59 1:00 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:10, 6:51, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Tue 11:09, 8:55, 1.25, 95%, Challenging (7th highest median solve time of 119 Tuesday puzzles)
Wed 12:18, 11:51, 1.04, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 19:18, 19:13, 1.00, 55%, Medium
Fri 20:38, 25:45, 0.80, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:14, 3:40, 0.88, 5%, Easy (6th lowest median solve time of 118 Monday puzzles)
Tue 5:35, 4:35, 1.22, 97%, Challenging (5th highest median solve time of 119 Tuesday puzzles)
Wed 6:07, 5:51, 1.05, 68%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 8:38, 9:22, 0.92, 42%, Medium
Fri 10:38, 12:44, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium

evil doug 4:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:21 PM  

While we're on the subject of Gettysburg generals, and considering the season, let's not forget Union Major General Abner Doubleday (although his relationship to baseball may be more legendary than factual...)

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Strange how minds work. Just last week the ol' Spacecraft here was wailing the blues over a totally unfinishable (for me) grid rated "easy" (?!?) by most of you; today I breezed through this one which earned a rating of 'medium-challenging." Go figure!
Leapt right into the middle with the JACKLORD gimme, which got me JACKSONS; a couple more -CK-words and I got the pattern.
Hand up for pinky, and for the word that should have been clued as "Rogers and others" (GINGERS). The repeated -CKLESS and -INGERS didn't bother me; the repeated ONEs did, for some reason.
The few nits aside, I agree with the overall sentiment that this effort had freshness and zing aplenty. Nice job, Joe!

pronve: Brett Favre's position on the turf after a sack?

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

K is for Krozel, I guess. Or do the K's have some sort of significance in Track & Field?

Not wild about GINGERS. I'm a MARY ANNS guy.



@a guy 3:49 PM
I drew a puzzle on my cat.

Dirigonzo 8:10 PM  

From syndiland, almost gave up in the NE corner but SPUTNIK came over the horizon at the last minute (I had used up the hour allotted) and saved the day. Noticed lots of Ks but failed to see the diaganol line they formed. It's always good to finish a Friday puzzle.

And on this date 5 years ago, RPDTNYTCP included these highlights:
- "Solving time: around 40 min. (tired, in bed)"
- "I tanked this puzzle. Very unsatisfying. The problem was entirely my fault, though it involves one of those bits of esoterica that tick me off every once in a while. My mistake, which when I realized it made me so angry that I had to go and vent On Another Blog before I even wrote a word here, was as follows: for 45D: Calendrier column (Mardi), I had MERDI. If I were French, I'd have exclaimed MERDE upon realizing my error. I studied French for seven years in high school and college. You'd think I'd know the $@#$-ing word for TUESDAY! But I wrote MERDI and it became locked in. I never questioned it. Since I didn't know the esoteric piece of crap next to it - 49D: Carillon component (bell) - I wrote in CELL, thinking it the only -ELL word that could rightly said to be a "component" of something (I had two shots: biological cell or prison cell). Resulting problem: I had CELD (!?) for 49A: Worn smooth - the correct answer to which turns out to be the very simple BALD. So Saturday leaves a bad taste in my mouth yet again. The rest of the puzzle was OK, I guess. Reasonable Saturday difficulty, nothing spectacular.

What the hell is "Carillon?""
- There were two comments, including this from @Andrew: "Let's go to New Orleans for Merdi Gras."

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Friday-only solver in syndication for the last ten years. Puzzles usually take all week to chip away. This was the only time I finished one in one "sitting" - easiest for me ever.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

I didn’t see the oval of vowels that @Martin pointed out, but did see the As,Cs and Ks that @SAXword mentioned. If you highlight those and the Os from planktOn and jacklOrd, you get a picture of a car popping a wheelie(28 down’s clue) more or less encircled by the vowels. So subliminal, even the constructor didn’t see it?

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